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Government of Canada strengthens “use it or lose it” spectrum policy and develops rules that will give Indigenous applicants priority access to unused spectrum

Press Release

From: Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada

The government introduces concrete actions to advance economic reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples

January 30, 2024 – Ottawa, Ontario

Connecting rural and remote areas and advancing Indigenous economic reconciliation are top priorities for the Government of Canada.

Today, the Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, announced a new spectrum licensing framework that will provide access to unused licensed spectrum in rural and remote areas. This framework will encourage current licensees to expand their coverage or give new users the opportunity to put spectrum to use.

To advance Indigenous self-determination and economic reconciliation, the Government of Canada is also developing rules that will give Indigenous applicants priority access to this unused spectrum. The government has published a draft Indigenous Priority Window Spectrum Policy Framework that will be further developed through meaningful engagement with Indigenous Peoples.

The government will continue to pursue policies and put rules in place so that spectrum is put to use for the benefit of all Canadians. With these new measures, Canadians will benefit from better use of spectrum and improved connectivity in rural and remote areas.

Quotes

“Spectrum is an important public resource that is a critical component of higher-quality and more affordable wireless telecom services. That’s why our government is committed to making more spectrum available and ensuring everyone can benefit from improved connectivity and the latest technologies.”

– The Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry

“Access to reliable, high-speed Internet is a necessity for small, remote and Indigenous communities. Broadband Internet helps small businesses find new customers and makes it easier for people to connect with their loved ones and health care providers.”
– The Honourable Gudie Hutchings, Minister of Rural Economic Development and Minister responsible for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency

“No matter where they live, Indigenous Peoples deserve access to reliable and affordable telecommunication services. Better connectivity for every Indigenous community will create economic opportunities and help us move forward on the path of reconciliation.

– The Honourable Gary Anandasangaree, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations

Quick facts

  • This new spectrum licensing framework is an important part of the government’s “use it or lose it” approach to spectrum policy—a series of measures that require telecom companies to use their spectrum to serve Canadians in a timely manner or risk losing it to others who will.
  • This framework builds on the Decision on a Non-Competitive Local Licensing Framework, announced in May 2023, to give easy local access to 5G spectrum to Internet service providers and innovative industries, as well as rural, remote and Indigenous communities.
  • The draft Indigenous Priority Window (IPW) Spectrum Policy Framework is a proposed time-limited window during which Indigenous applicants have priority access to available spectrum.
  • ISED has initiated a six-month engagement period on the draft IPW framework. Following this engagement, ISED will publish a decision on the final IPW framework and its timing.

Associated links

Contacts

Audrey Champoux
Press Secretary and Senior Communications Advisor
Office of the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry
audrey.champoux@ised-isde.gc.ca

Media Relations
Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada
media@ised-isde.gc.ca

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